November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, bringing attention to a disease that one in eight people age 65 and older have. This number is set to increase as the population ages. The disease destroys brain cells, making it impossible for those who have been diagnosed with it to remember their loved ones or perform basic tasks such as brushing their teeth and getting dressed. There are drugs on the market that may slow down the progress of the disease and keep some memory loss at bay for a limited time.
Alzheimer’s Disease affects predominantly seniors, but more than five million spouses and children of those suffering from disabilities related to dementia give tirelessly into care-giving roles as well as emotional stress as they watch their loved ones disappear day by day. These caregivers need additional support as they attempt to maintain a normal life of their own. They also need resources as the disease progresses as it takes over more and more abilities of those afflicted with it, especially those with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease.
It is important for seniors to receive early diagnoses so that they have the opportunity to plan their futures accordingly and enjoy a higher quality of life in their final years. There are many benefits to senior citizens receiving early diagnosis through screenings that help doctors diagnose the disease days or months before symptoms emerge. Early diagnosis helps families prepare financially by creating a plan for future care expenses, creating a comprehensive estate plan and gives patients time to adjust mentally with support groups and counseling sessions.
A major part of the Alzheimer’s awareness campaign is to promote research for a cure. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded over $1 billion in federal funding towards researching Alzheimer’s disease since 2014, which accounts for half of all government spending on Alzheimer’s research. However, this funding does not account for the billions spent solely by organizations such as the National Institute on Aging and the Department of Defense that are also committed to finding an effective treatment or cure.
The best way that you can fight Alzheimer’s Disease is by donating your time and money. There are many community services available locally through senior centers, churches, and hospitals that aim to help patients and their families.